Faith without borders: Reflections after a spring tour of Israel and Palestine
A citizen's view
November 1, 2023
The current Israel / Hamas war is tragic. The scenes of devastation and destruction in the Gaza strip and the reports of those killed and injured is heartbreaking, The continuing loss of human life and growing humanitarian crisis is overwhelming in the reality of little or no promise of reconciliation or peace.
This past May my wife and I were able to join a group of people in a religious study tour of Israel and Palestine (also called the West Bank, Judea and Samaria) visiting the historical sites. It was good to see the land and to walk the streets that have been there for thousands of years. But for me, the highlight of the trip was to travel into areas of Palestine and meet the people, to hear their stories of what it is like to live in a land whose borders are contested and for generations has been in conflict.
We visited a 100-acre farm in Palestine and heard the story of a family that is desperately trying to hold on to a farm that has been in their family for over 100 years. In recent years that property has come under siege. One-night bulldozers broke through fences and removed 1,500 olive trees. Despite that attack and the continuing opposition to this family, a sign at the entrance to the farm reads, “We refuse to be enemies.” This family seeks to live a faith without borders.
As I walked on this small farm, heard and saw this family’s efforts to hold on to property that had been part of this family for generations, I was reminded of Psalm 16:6, “The boundary lines have fallen for me in pleasant places; / surely I have a delightful inheritance.” Like this family from Palestine, I too inherited with my sister a small farm on Pleasant Ridge that our parents bought 60 years ago. For me, “The boundary lines have fallen for me in pleasant places / surely I have a delightful inheritance.”
That is an inheritance I am called to “live into.” I pray for peace. And while the Israel / Palestine war is half a world away, I need to work for peace and reconciliation in my own relationships, particularly where there are strong differences and conflicts. As a person of faith, I too seek to live a faith without borders. Jesus, in one of his beatitudes expressed it this way, “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.” When we seek peace with all people, when we refuse to be enemies, we live a faith without borders embracing our inheritance as a child of God.
I recently read, “Peacemaking doesn’t mean passivity. It is the act of interrupting injustice without mirroring injustice, the act of disarming evil without destroying the evildoer, the act of finding a third way that is neither fight nor flight, but the careful, arduous pursuit of reconciliation and justice. It is about a revolution of love that is big enough to set both the oppressed and oppressors free.” (“Common Prayer: A Liturgy for Ordinary Radicals.”)
Don and his wife live in the La Conner community. He is a graduate of La Conner High School. Weekly News Editor Ken Stern asked Robinson to share his reflections of his trip to Israel and Palestine last spring.